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COVER:
Grassy Narrows Fights for their Future


BIOGRAPHY
Eskasoni's Icon: Seymour Doucette


Sophie Pierre, Lifetime Achiever Seeks a Better Future for Children

BUSINESS
Tobacco Road Revisited

Interior First Nations Awarded Forest Licenses

BOOKS
Fatherhood, History, and Art

CULTURE
A Mother's Prayer for Son's Safe Return

EDUCATION
CHIP Hospitality "Future Tourism Leaders" Scholarship

HUMOUR
Bee in the Bonnet: Circle the Wagon

MODERN TREATIES
Top Court to Determine Scope of Metis Rights

Tobacco Road Revisited
By
Dr. John Bacher

Society corrupts itself
In the early 1980s Ganienkeh had realized some of Hall's dreams for the creation of a drug and pollution free haven for the Iroquois in the relatively clean environment of New York's Adirondacks.

It was soon destined however to change into a center for organized crime, causing its founder Cartoon, to eventually lead a Mohawk police action against the remaining Warriors he formerly commanded at a critical standoff at Akwesasne.

The brave Oneida journalist and police investigator, Jim Moses, has traced the major shift in the nature of the Warrior Society, to the Racquette Point incident of 1980 describing it as: "The last time the Mohawk Warrior's Society acted from a purely altruistic motive before the movement corrupted itself."

The Racquette Point standoff erupted over a minor incident concerning the U.S. St. Regis Band Council's efforts to cut trees for the construction of a fence around the reservation. The Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs (the traditional government at Akwesasne) interpreted this as an abandonment of Mohawk land claims outside of reserve boundaries.

The Mohawk Nation Council (the Longhouse people) refused to
permit the formation of a "warrior society" at Akwesasne even if there were individuals who referred to themselves as such.
The Racquette Point incident (an almost year long armed standoff) created a law enforcement vacuum, which presented a few opportunistic Mohawks with the change of a lifetime. The international border was open for business.

The resulting smuggling activities would draw the Warriors Society into the destructive vortex of organized crime. It would also result in a conflict with the traditional adherents of the Longhouse and the Confederacy that had been originally sympathetic to it.

The most important factor was that the incident promoted a need for guns, which would be exploited by criminals associated with organized crime.

During the Raquette point siege, individuals connected to organized crime offered weapons to the Warriors. Moses found these gunrunners, with much experience as mob connected thugs, had "extensive connections to the underworld in Chicago and Detroit" and had "very sinister" reputations.

Shady alliances form
The new organized crime connections would be exacerbated in their dangers by other new developments, most critically in 1982 after a close vote of 325 to 307 conducted by the U.S. St. Regis Tribal Council, after the successful nonviolent resolution of the Racquette Point incident. The close vote resulted in the dissolution of the American Mohawk police force.

This situation would last 15 years, until it was finally remedied as part of the coordinated approach to the problem of organized crime long advocated in vain by courageous voices like Jim Moses.

Four Mohawk communities were now straddled near the Canadian-U.S. border, with two, American St. Regis and Ganienkeh, being no police zones. These communities are only within a half hour drive of each other.

The Warrior's birthplace, Kahnawake, surrounded by Montreal, provides a good location to sell such contraband goods as tax-free cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs on a massive scale.

What made the border situation so explosive for the corruption of the Warrior Society were new sinister and cynical political developments by right wing political forces in the United States, hostile to the earth protecting agendas of the allied environmental and native movements.

These consciously sought to cut federal expenditures on native programs, have native communities fund their economies through gambling and exploit native governance as a weak link to undercut public efforts to curb organized crime.

Since the alliance between greens and natives promised a new form of people's power, threatening to big polluting corporations, corrupt conservative strategists in the Regan and Nixon administrations forged an alliance with opportunistic native entrepreneurs, who were environmental outlaws, with organized crime.

A key architect of the destructive, cynical policy to use native governance to facilitate organized crime in the early 1980s was the late Stephen Henntington Whidden, who had earlier served as legal counsel in the corrupt Presidential administration of Richard Nixon.

Whidden, a Harvard University trained lawyer in 1979, was serving as solicitor for a Seminole nation when it clashed with state authorities over the installation of poker and video slot machines in a bingo hall in Hollywood, near Fort Lauderdale.

Whidden aggressively encouraged the Seminole nation to seek commercial advantages by undertaking various activities, including gambling, which were prohibited by Florida state law. Investigations by the California Department of Justice would reveal that Whidden's schemes with the Seminoles were part of an effort financed by such pillars of organized crime as the Genoveses, the family of Sebastian Larocca in Pittsburgh and the key financial wizard of Mafia gangs, Meyer Lanksy.

More than a few Iroquois watched the Florida events closely so when the Seminoles won their legal fight against the state to operate commercial bingo halls, similar ventures sprouted up in Akwesasne, Oneida, Cattaraugus and Gagienkeh. Each gambling venture was based on the assertion of Iroquois sovereignty extracted from the 1973 Moss Lake occupation; only this time the issue would be economic rather than territorial.

Illegal gambling, as defined by the traditional leaders of the Confederacy, would appear in Iroquois soon after the Racquette Point incident in Ganienkeh. Here, the community would follow the Seminoles and ignore state law regarding gambling, which established limits of $1,000 a prize for bingo.

This resulted in the establishment of the Sunrise Stakes Bingo Hall. Ganiekeh would soon pioneer in another activity unregulated by state law. This would be the establishment of gasoline stations that did not charge state tax.

The economic capitalists exploited the sovereignty struggles of the Confederacy in ways that defied the very laws the leadership was seeking to preserve, and without any tangible benefit to those aboriginal governments that were entrusted with the task of defending the collective rights of the people.

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